(May 6, 2003 – New York, NY) - The legendary songwriting team of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin will unite to write the music and lyrics for “The Vampire Lestat” [working title], their first-ever Broadway musical together. The project, which marks Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures’ entry into Broadway production, was announced today at a press conference in New York City. Gregg Maday, Executive Vice President, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures Inc., will oversee the production on behalf of Warner Bros. Entertainment. The all-new musical is based on Anne Rice’s celebrated character, the suave, seductive vampire Lestat, who has already captivated audiences on the page and onscreen in such works as “Interview With the Vampire,” “Queen of the Damned” and “The Vampire Lestat,” drawing on characters and incidents from all three best-selling novels. Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures has assembled a team of esteemed Broadway veterans to guide “The Vampire Lestat.” In addition to John (who is currently represented on Broadway by the hit stage productions of “The Lion King” and “Aida”) and Taupin, the project will feature a book by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aida”) and will be directed by Robert Jess Roth (“Beauty and the Beast”). Emanuel “Manny” Azenberg, who has produced more than 50 shows on and off Broadway is also involved as a producer for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. “I am so thrilled at last to be working on this project,” said John. “‘Interview With the Vampire’ is one of my favorite books and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors. Although this project has taken awhile to come together, I firmly believe we have the right team in place. ‘The Vampire Lestat’ is the first stage musical that I’ve written with Bernie which makes it even more special for me.” “I am thrilled to be working on a project that has been on my radar screen since I first read ‘Interview with the Vampire’ in 1976 and met with Anne Rice several years later,” said Taupin. “Anne had always loved the idea of seeing her Vampire Chronicles set in some sort of serious and seductive musical setting and for all of the parties involved this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Elton and I have threatened for years to work together on something for Broadway but until now had never found anything that appealed to both of us collectively or suited my own personal writing style. I’m happy to say that ‘The Vampire Lestat’ fills in all the blanks that were missing. To unify these books into a linear storyline has transported us into a penetrating and episodic epic that I am excited and honored to immerse myself in wholeheartedly. Our intention is make a classically based show that is stripped of gothic clichés and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level. Please let me make this clear this is NOT a rock opera. Our hope is that it will be stylish, sexy, intelligent, rich and hypnotically dark.” “Gregg has been exploring theatrical projects for us for the past several years and I can’t think of a more thrilling first venture for our company than to bring together one of the greatest songwriting teams in the history of music with one of the most popular characters in modern fiction,” said Alan Horn, President & Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. “As we move into this new arena, we are excited to have a creative executive of Gregg’s caliber, whose passion and understanding of the theater will be integral to our efforts.” “Combining Sir Elton and Bernie’s musical gifts with Anne Rice’s fascinating and beloved characters is a match most producers can only dream of,” said Maday. “And assembling a production team that includes Linda, Robert and Manny ensures that this will be exactly the kind of artist-driven, high-quality theatrical experience our company is in business to produce. “Lestat and the other characters seemed poised to move to the musical stage, and when you hear Elton and Bernie’s songs, you immediately understand their love for the material,” continued Maday. “And fortunately, Warner Bros. Entertainment not only held the theatrical rights to these properties, but through them, had a warm relationship with Anne Rice. She knows our vision will be respectful to both the characters she created and the audiences who love them.” “Creating a musical based on Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles has been a dream of mine for quite a few years now, so it’s very exciting that it’s all coming together,” said Roth. “Assembling this group of artists and having the chance to dive into Anne’s rich world is really amazing. I’m very pleased that Warner Bros. is making its entry into the musical theater. They have been supportive and have given us a real development process so we can take the time to create the show.” “I have always loved Anne Rice and the dark, delicious worlds she creates in her books,” said Woolverton. “The Vampire novels have always been particularly seductive to me. She has created a rich, epic tale filled with characters that are supernatural and larger-than-life and yet so very human because she has imbued them with mortal fears, frailties, moral dilemmas. I am thrilled to be adapting her work to the stage and doubly thrilled to be collaborating with Elton John and Bernie Taupin on their first Broadway musical together.” “I am absolutely elated that this is happening,” said Anne Rice. “Lestat will be given a magnificent new incarnation. I have every confidence that the musical will be superb, as the songs I’ve heard capture the spirit of the material marvelously. The music and lyrics go right to the tragic heart of the work. They reflect its most ambitious themes and they are beautiful. I couldn’t be more thrilled.” Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures was created to explore the vast number of Warner Bros. Entertainment library titles that might lend themselves to theatrical presentation. While Warner Bros. Entertainment has licensed its properties theatrically before, most notably “42nd Street,” “The Vampire Lestat” (working title) marks the first venture in which Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures will be the actual producing entity. About the Participants ELTON JOHN - “The Vampire Lestat” marks Elton John’s third musical for Broadway, following the tremendous success of the smash hits “The Lion King” and “Aida.” In the early 1990s, John embarked on songwriting collaborations with lyricist Tim Rice, resulting in the soundtrack to the Walt Disney Pictures blockbuster “The Lion King,” for which he won an Academy Award. The album produced two top selling, award winning singles for John, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life.” In 1997, “The Lion King” debuted on Broadway, receiving six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and in 1998, a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. In March 2000, the Tony Award-winning “Aida” opened on Broadway and John was honored with another Grammy for the Best Musical Show Album. John has finished writing music with Lee Hall for the stage production of “Billy Elliot,” which will be opening in London in 2004. John, whose legendary career has spanned more than three decades, is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, and 29 consecutive Top 40 hits. He has sold more than 200 million records worldwide. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has awarded John multiple Grammys, including the Grammy Legend Award, as well as honored him with the MusicCares Person of the Year Award. John’s most current album, “Elton John’s Greatest Hits: 1970-2002,” is a retrospective album highlighting songs written in collaboration with long-time writing partner Bernie Taupin. John and Taupin have united to write the music and lyrics for “The Vampire Lestat,” their first ever Broadway production together. A great humanitarian, John is committed to working not only for his own charity, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, one of the largest public non-profit organizations in the AIDS arena, but other charities and arts organizations as well. In 1998, John was knighted by the Queen of England who honored him with the title Sir Elton John, CBE. BERNIE TAUPIN - Bernie Taupin has been responsible for some of the most memorable and commercially successful lyrics of the modern rock era. His collaboration with Sir Elton John alone has given us classic recordings like “Honky Chateau,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” since it began in the ’60s and their recordings have sold over 150 million copies. When Bernie charitably revised the lyrics of the hit song “Candle in the Wind” to reflect the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1977, the single, which benefited the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, sold an unprecedented 35 million copies in 38 days and currently ranks as the biggest selling single of all time. Taupin has been nominated for several Grammy Awards, been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and is only the second lyricist in history to receive the ASCAP Golden Word award, the other being the legendary Sammy Cahn. In addition to his collaborations with Sir Elton, Taupin has co-composed the rock classics “We Built This City” for Jefferson Starship, and “These Dreams” for Heart, both number one singles in America. He is also a singer, author, painter and humanitarian, with three solo albums and two CDs with the roots-rock band Farm Dogs. His autobiography, “A Cradle of Halos” was published in 1988. In 1992 and 1995 respectively, he produced the star studded “Commitment to Life VI and VIII,” which raised over $8 million for AIDS Project Los Angeles. ROBERT JESS ROTH - Robert Jess Roth received a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut, “Beauty and the Beast,” which is now in its ninth year on Broadway and the seventh-longest-running Broadway show in history. He has also received numerous nominations and awards from around the world for his direction, including the Jeff Award, the Ovation Award, the Dora Award and the Dramalogue Award. He has directed productions of “Beauty” the world over, including in London, where the show won the Olivier Award for Best Musical. He recently directed rock star Alice Cooper’s Dragontown World Tour. He previously directed Cooper’s hugely successful Brutal Planet Tour, and is collaborating with the singer and composer Alan Menken on a new album called “Deadly Seven.” Robert is also developing “Buzz!!,” a Las Vegas spectacular based on the life of Busby Berkeley with a book by Larry Gelbart and score by Alan Menken and David Zippel, as well as adapting and directing the musical version of Don Roos’ film “The Opposite of Sex” with composer Douglas J. Cohen. LINDA WOOLVERTON - Linda Woolverton’s writing credits include the screenplay for the Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated animated feature film “Beauty And The Beast” and the book for the stage production of “Beauty and the Beast,” which was nominated for a Tony and won an Olivier Award. She has also shared screenwriting duties on “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” and “The Lion King” and shared writing duties for the book of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida.” Woolverton has also written two young adult novels: “Star-Wind” and “Running Before The Wind,” both published by Houghton-Mifflin. EMANUEL AZENBERG - Emanuel Azenberg has produced some 60 shows and musicals on Broadway, including “The Lion in Winter,” “Mark Twain Tonight!” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Children of a Lesser God,” “Master Harold…and the boys,” Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Whoopi Goldberg,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” “Side Show,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Stones in His Pockets,” and “Private Lives.” He has produced Neil Simon’s work since 1972, including “The Sunshine Boys,” “Chapter Two,” “They’re Playing Our Song,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Biloxi Blues,” “Broadway Bound” and “Lost in Yonkers.” He is currently represented on Broadway with “Movin’ Out” and “La Boheme.” He has received 118 Tony Award nominations and 36 Tony Awards. He was a producer on the films “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Master Harold…and the boys” and “Broadway Bound.” Azenberg has served as a professor at Duke University since 1985.
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